“Shaun Groves gives up” is quite a headline. Certainly not one anyone wants to read when he has a new album releasing. But it’s OK. He gives up.

With a growing family and church going strong at home, no one can blame him. Four-year-old Gabriella, 2-year-old Gresham and newborn Penelope have Groves’ attention turned toward home base, while his relatively new work as a co-pastor of IKON, a community of 18- to 25-year-olds at his home church, keeps his priorities focused toward Nashville.

“My family and then my church are top priority. Teaching at my church would be third. My musician job is fourth,” says Groves. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard at this job. It just means that this really isn’t my life.”

So Groves gives up — the music industry formula of face time and fame for the face-to-face relationships where he sees God working most in his life now. “I hang out after shows and go to Waffle House with a bunch of college students and try to get that face-to-face time. But that’s also why I like having friends here at home, having family here, having these students in my own church that I disciple here,” he says.

The cycle of singer-songwriter-performer brings around a new record though, and these new relationships within the IKON community have challenged Groves in the direction of his music. Watching young adults come back to church stirred Groves to re-check his thinking for his third record, White Flag.

“We have a lot of people come to our Bible study, people who are sex addicts and drug addicts, who have checked out of church but for some reason will come to this thing we’re doing. These people, if you turn on Christian radio, they’re going to tell you how completely out of touch you are.”

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“But,” Groves emphatically states, “the Bible is not out of touch. The Bible is sharper than any double-edged sword.”

Building on what he experienced through a Bible study on the Beatitudes, Groves knew he must create songs based straight from these teachings of Jesus. He went full force, verse-by-verse writing songs on the Beatitudes, thinking not of radio hits but of staying true to Christ’s words. “I’ve always been OK with the dark and the light sides of our faith, with the uncomfortable and the very celebratory parts of our faith, but teaching like this gives me an extra scriptural foundation, an extra license and freedom to extenuate that difference,” he says.

Groves would say that working through the Beatitudes isn’t another easy Sunday school lesson. It is about working through each level to be a disciple of Jesus, not just a believer in Jesus; it’s about surrender and throwing up the white flag to Christ.

He believes strongly in the church’s need to understand and apply the teachings that he explores methodically on White Flag. Talking about the song “Bless the Lord,” the only song he’s ever recorded that he didn’t also write, Groves gives up but doesn’t back down: “My allegiance is to my God, my King and not to my country, not to my job, not to materialism, not to anything else. My heart has to be pure. I have to love God and be allegiant to Him above all else.”

Copyright © 2005 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.

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